Las Vegas, NV – “I was having the time of my life one second and in the next second, I was running for my life.”
This was the experience described by one survivor of Sunday night’s massacre in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her experience was emblematic of what nearly 22,000 country music fans experienced during the massacre that night.
Not only did the Las Vegas tragedy reopen wounds associated with the 2015 attack at the Inland Region Center; across the inland empire, a number of local families were personally touched by Vegas attack and the community holds them in prayer.
When the first shots rang out in Las Vegas just after 10 p.m., the concert attendees first thought they heard fireworks. It didn’t take long, however, for fans and performers alike to figure out they were under attack. The shots continued to ring out in rapid-fire succession for more than fifteen minutes as people struggled to get away while also helping loved ones and strangers along the way in an instinctual rush to stay alive.
They would later learn how 64-year-old Steven Paddock, had checked into the Mandalay Bay Hotel with at least ten suitcases filled with weapons and ammunition; how he set himself up in two adjoining rooms on the 32nd floor that overlooked the strip and the concert venue; how he set up cameras outside his rooms to keep an eye out for authorities; how he busted out a window in each of the two rooms and trained his weapons in the direction of the concert venue where thousands of people, oblivious to his intent, enjoyed the performance as sitting ducks. When the shooting stopped, 59 people were dead and at least 527 were injured.
Paddock’s younger brother said, “He was just a guy.” Yes, he was just a guy; but he was also a mass murder who killed dozens, injured hundreds and once again, broke the heart of a nation, a nation that can neither heal itself nor protect its citizens from such senseless carnage. Why? Because it has placed the right to bear arms with minimal restriction, above the lives of its citizens; because it has sold its responsibility and accountability for the lives of Americans to a gun lobby that places profits above all else; because it lacks the courage necessary to demand elected officials act on the wishes of the nation’s majority who continue to cry out for common-sense gun control or to elect representatives who will.